Transport (3)




As Britain gradually recovered from wartime shortages, the transport system resumed more or less as before 1939.  Although Alex Hay had moved to Elgin in July 1938 when he bought over Hendry MacDonald’s two buses at the Palace Garage, Hay’s buses continued to operate from Aberchirder to Banff, Turriff, Huntly and Keith into the 1950s.

At that time Alexanders also had a bus depot at 122 Main St (the former McMillan premises) till they moved all their buses to Macduff around 1950.


Hay's Bus During 1947 Storm
A Hays bus heading from Banff towards Blacklaw and Aberchirder. Photo taken in early 1947, during the worst snow on record all over Britain.
(Picture Courtesy of Harry Thomson)


Bill Pirie with his Bluebird bus in Aberchirder, around 1950.
(Picture Courtesy of S Pirie)

Bob Pirie with Bluebird Bus

By the 1960s, big changes began to take place as increasing prosperity meant more people could afford to buy mass-produced cars giving them control over their travel arrangements.  This led to hard times for rural railways and bus services, and, by the end of the 1960s most rural branch railway lines had closed under the ‘Beeching Axe’.  Bus services off the trunk roads began to depend on small local companies whose main business was transporting school pupils and private hire work.

In Aberchirder, William Webster (Badger) had bought over Hay’s buses in the early 1950s and ran them till they were no longer serviceable. Meanwhile Hans Hardie, who had run a taxi business since 1938, from what had been Charles Buchan’s motor garage at the top of Main Street, began to run buses in 1964, continuing until 1994 when the firm sold out to Bluebird.

Stagecoach Bluebird, a trading name of Bluebird Buses Ltd., continued operating in the north east of Scotland covering Aberdeenshire, Moray, Angus and Aberdeen city services.

Parking in The Square
Postcard published by Bodie of Banff showing cars parked in The Square in the 1950's. Note the trees and bus shelter.
(Picture Courtesy of Eddie Bruce)

Hardie's Coach
A Hardie’s coach parked at the harbour at Burghead, where Sunday School picnics went in the 1960s.
(Picture Courtesy of Bob Peden)

Hardie's Fleet in 1994
The entire fleet of Hardie’s buses parked in the Square on their last day in business, 1994.
(Picture Courtesy of Hilda Esslemont)

As in many parts of rural Scotland, it has become increasingly difficult to travel by public transport from Aberchirder to other towns in the North-east, as mass motoring has meant that buses cannot carry enough passengers to make services viable, and most services have to be heavily subsidised by Aberdeenshire Council.

This means that families without access to private transport are severely disadvantaged in terms of not only leisure, but access to shops and services such as hospitals.

Hardie's Minibuses
Hardie minibuses (1983 registration) parked outside the garage at
the top of Main Street.
Bluebird Bus in 2006
A Stagecoach Bluebird bus heading past Cleanhill towards Huntly, 2006.


As motor transport developed, especially in the 1920s, the horse-drawn goods carriers gradually went out of business. Their place was taken by delivery vans which served towns and people in the surrounding countryside, and by lorries which did more long distance work.  After World War Two, motor transport was the norm although some local businesses continued to use horse or hand carts.

Milk Cart
John Taylor, later a provost of Foggie, on his milk round
in the 1950s.
(Picture Courtesy of Gladys Christie)

Butcher's Van
James Johnston had the house and butcher’s shop at 5-6 The Square. Photo probably late 1930s or 1940s,
(Picture Courtesy of Helen Drummond)

Decorated Lorry 1953
In June 1953 Aberchirder celebrated the coronation Queen Elizabeth II with various events, including a parade of floats.
(Picture Courtesy of James Hay)
Decorated Van 1953
One of the vehicles in the parade was John Stewart the Baker’s van.
(Picture Courtesy of James Hay)

Aberchirder 1930's
This postcard view of the Square in the 1930s shows a delivery van outside the Fife Arms Hotel and a carrier’s lorry coming up Main Street.
(Picture Courtesy of Ann Jordan)
Bremner's Vans
Bingo Bremner (holding son Robert) and Robbie McKenzie, with two of Bingo’s delivery vans in the 1950s.
(Picture Courtesy of Mary McKenzie)

When old Davie MacLennan died in 1953, his son Kenny bought over his father’s saddler’s business at 56-58 Main Street.  At that time Kenny developed it into a shop selling bikes, TVs, etc, a taxi service, petrol pumps, and a garage which carried out car repairs.  Meanwhile his brother Davie, who ran a carrier service, started a garage business from the same premises.  Kenny later purchased lorries, which carried lime, draff, grain, etc as well as livestock to marts as far away as Thurso.

MacLennan's Lorries
A line-up of the MacLennan fleet of lorries in McRobert Park in the 1950s.  Drivers are (l to r): Joe Brown, Stewart Inglis, Alex Tewnion, Bob Thain, Billy Imlach, John Duguid, Peter Murdoch, John Emslie, Bill Thain, Donald Stevenson, James Abel, James Anderson, William Stevenson.
Kenny MacLennan stands beside his limousine.

(Picture Courtesy of Lily MacLennan)

In 1960, MacLennan built new premises in North Street and the business developed into articulated lorries which operated throughout Scotland and England.  In 1972 the business was sold to Charles Gray of Portsoy and continued to trade as MacLennans Transport.  Thereafter the company passed to Munro Transport of Aberdeen and then in 1999 to Grampian Distribution Services, which was renamed Grampian MacLennans.

Grampian MacLennans Lorry Corgi Scale Model

Lorry at Grampian MacLennan depot in North Street, Aberchirder, 2006 and model by Corgi above.


The vehicles used by the emergency services have become more sophisticated over the years, and this is well illustrated by the local fire service.  The first fire engine was bought in 1897 from London County Council for £10 and taken to Aberdeen by steamboat!  A wooden fire-station was built for it next to the slaughterhouse opposite the Back Spoot well.  In 1911, the brigade dealt with a fire at Easter Corskie and, as this was outside the burgh boundary, the Town Council charged the owner £5, of which £3 went to the firemen!  In the early years the fire appliance was hand pulled and hand-pumped.  A modern fire station was built in Taylor Drive in 1970.

Original Fire Station
The old fire station which was taken over by the local Council as a store in 1970.
The New Fire Station
The new fire station in Taylor Drive, opened in 1970.

Dodge Carmichael Fire Engine
The previous type of fire engine (A registration - 1983).
(Picture Courtesy of Peter Scott)
Scania Fire Engine
New white fire engine (K registration 1992) at Taylor Drive fire station, 1999.    (Picture Courtesy of Peter Scott)

Replacement fire-engine on 14 December 2009.
A white Scania 94D 220. Y536RRS

One aspect of road transport where technology has made life easier for motorists and road workers, is in snow clearance.

It is hard to imagine the disruption and hard work created by the heavy snowfalls which, in memory at least, seem to have been more frequent in years gone by.

A Hay’s bus making its way towards Blacklaw and Aberchirder in the winter of 1947.    (Picture Courtesy of Harry Thomson)

Hay's Bus in Storm of 1947

Baker's Van Stranded in Snow
Stewart the Baker’s van stranded in South Street in the 1950s
(Picture Courtesy of John B Rattray)
The Square 1950's
Wintry scene in the Square in the 1950s
  (Picture Courtesy of John B Rattray)
Horse-Drawn Snow Plough
This was the plough used for all snow clearing in Aberchirder in the winter of 1941.
(Picture Courtesy of John B Rattray)
Clearing Snow by Hand 1947
Winter 1947, the worst in living memory – men with shovels trying to keep the Cornhill road open.
(Picture Courtesy of John B Rattray)

John B Rattray, who was chemist and postmaster in Aberchirder from 1935 to 1966, told of two episodes during the great blizzard of 1955, when there were 10-foot drifts in the area.  Two postmen were on their delivery round from Aberchirder towards the Knock when they were forced to seek refuge in a henhouse near Culvie.  Also, twelve Banff Academy pupils and their bus driver Badger, spent the night in a small kitchen in the tiny post office at Blacklaw.

J B Rattray’s regular postmen and assistants, 1955 – J A Simpson, George Porter and Frank Gibb with their three assistants and lady post office assistants. The photo was taken just before Frank Gibb and Herbert Gray were trapped in a blizzard.   
(Picture Courtesy of John B Rattray)

Post Office Staff 1955
Snow Plough Snow Plough

Modern Day Snowploughs Early 2000


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